Addicts can recover. Women can recover. Not all addicts do. Not all women do. Not all addicts are able to stay alive long enough to realize their life is worth something. If I am being honest, there were times when I couldn’t realize my life was worth something, especially when JoDee was in a tent in a snowstorm. I can’t speak to what recovery is like for the addict…. (light bulb goes on overhead- maybe I will help JoDee draft her own post from her perspective), but I can tell you what it was like for me. From the family of the loved one’s perspective. I have spoken about the transition to active addiction to recover for me in other posts. It’s no secret I was doubtful, resentful, angry that I was completely mistrusting of JoDee. I did not think I would ever look at her without punching her straight in the face. And then clean her up with love, of course. The back and forth. Punch her, love her. Strangle her, love her. Throttle her about the body and head, love her. It was an exhausting game. Certainly, there is a normal part of parenting that renders the punch in face feeling. I have often said I would absolutely throw myself in front a train for them, but sometimes, I would absolutely throw myself in front of a train because of them. You can relate, right? I mean, I hope so. They are adults now, so no need to ring anyone!
The desire to punch an addict in the face is much different, however. It is much less metaphorical and more shit just got real. There were times that I would beg for some higher power to help her get clean, or to help her find her way home or to a hospital, or for her to die so she would be in peace. If I am being honest, I think I believed there would be peace for me too, but the truth is that her death would only bring a new rein of suffrage. One would think that there would be a limit, nay an apex of pain, and sorrow a person can suffer, but have a child addict and you will learn it is boundless. My heart was hardened, to coal. My feelings dried up like a desert and my tears were nothing, but remanence of time gone by. When I would see JoDee I would vacillate between broken-hearted and breaking her legs. So, after two paragraphs of violence, I think you are picking up what I am dropping here.
The point is that there is no switch to turn that off. Before active addiction hit my life, I was not exactly a crier or a warm and fuzzy person, but I had more empathy for the plight of others. After almost 8 long years, I had two feelings. Anger and fatigue. By the end of this rein of terror, I had thrown myself into work. Working 10-12-hour days. Sometimes coming home from work, to work more. It was easier to sleep and work. Eat occasional. I was super-ass-and-awesomely-skinny. Can’t say I hated that, tbh people. But digression aside, it was not a life. It was merely existing. I want to say that it is not sustainable, but it is. I could live the rest of my life that way if I wanted too. I’m not sure I would have begun the metamorphosis that is/was required to come back to life without JoDee being pregnant. I was hard on her. I didn’t trust her. I was still in active addiction mode. I questioned everything she did. I wouldn’t let her move home. I wouldn’t leave my purse unsupervised. I mean, if you are a parent of a shady ass kid, you know what I’m talking about.
I have talked about how feeling the feels came sort of all at once. And that was difficult too. If you are not a person who was a really a feeler to being with, that sort of emotional tornado is diabolical. It took a while for me to stop being agitated and I should probably admit, more than a little volatile. But watching JoDee’s belly grow with baby inside and doing all the super fun things like throw an awesome baby shower helped me along. And then the fore mentioned uncoupling happened, and everything came to a head. That was a big breakthrough for me. For my whole family. When all signs of that relationship were gone, out of the house, and realized to not be as traumatic as I thought, I realized, I was happy. Not overjoyed, not elated or jubilant but comfortably happy. Happy and guilty. And I do have to tell you that the happiness grew, probably into jubilance, but the guilt came at the same pace. Guilt about how I raised the kids, questioning if I was a terrible young mother, survivors’ guilt that she lived. I was so convinced that she would kill herself someday, I was more surprised that it didn’t happen than if it had. It was and still is hard to think about the mothers I know that lost children, and not just that the children are gone, but they won’t experience the future of those kids either. Here is the conundrum- I feel terribly that children, husbands, wives, siblings are gone, and have feelings of incredible luck that mine didn’t, which makes me feel guilty for feeling luck. Make sense? No, I didn’t think so. It’s another level of the suffering of addiction life. And I know, woe is me about my poor alive kid, right? I know so the guilt spirals again. It’s a ridiculous cycle.
And, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about JoDee. Her recovery was coming along splendidly. Ugh, I have been watching to many English movies, splendidly? Who says that? But in honesty, it was. She was mothering like a boss. She is such a good mommy. And Brynnlee is surrounded by people who love her! She is dedicated to being a good mother, and it shows. It shows in the 1 million bows and shoes we now have strewn around the house! Baby Daddy is a loving daddy, who was calling her baldy locks because she was so bald. I thought that was hilarious! So, after nearly 8 years of my life being on a string waiting for the piano to drop out of the sky on my head, she just turns it around. Sometimes, that made me a wee-bit, just a tad, we are talking about miniscule amounts of resentment. I hate even admitting it. I kept thinking she is young and made mistakes, but she has plenty of time to make them right. She can be a good mom, and a good partner, and a good sister or daughter. Meanwhile, my marriage broke up, grossly I might add, my job took a very demanding turn, and the divorce was out-of-control ridiculous. I was happy, though, right? So why was I resentful? Isn’t this what I wanted? Wasn’t her recovery what I wanted? Yes, to all of that. But somehow it seemed anticlimactic then the addiction itself. I felt like there would have been this end-of-the-movie moment where she would realize how wrong she had been and would declare herself worthy. At sunset. On a beach. And we would run to each other, hugging and laughing, and all would wonderful. Hmmm…. that actually sounded like the end of a romantic movie, so, nasty. But you catch my drift. Living with the addiction was so traumatic, and it seemed like coming back to life would be more…. More. I guess just more. The strangest part, the part that I think most parents don’t talk about, not the parents with surviving kids, is that I almost had no purpose. I was only living to keep her alive. Now she is alive and thriving…so what’s my purpose? That’s rhetorical, but you get the thought train, and the ways it wreaks havoc on a girl’s mind. Fun times, people. Fun. Times.